Apple M2 Max vs. M1 Max

With Apple’s updated 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro rumored to be part of a January 17 press release, what better way to compare two generations of Mac laptops than highlighting the differences in chipsets? In this comparison, the company’s M1 Max takes on the upcoming M2 Max, and we’ll discuss what changes matter and how that will matter to you as a consumer.

M2 Max vs. M1 Max – Manufacturing Process

It was previously rumored that Apple would release updated MacBook Pro models in late 2022, but it has been delayed. The prevailing view was that TSMC was having problems with 3nm mass production, which led to Apple delaying the launch schedule. Fortunately, with the Taiwanese manufacturer officially starting production of chips earlier this year from its next-generation process, there should be only positive news from here.

It just means that where the M1 Max was mass-produced on TSMC’s 5nm architecture, we should expect the M2 Max to be built on a 3nm process, or at least 4nm. While we’re leaning toward 3nm, Apple will likely face unnecessary delays in shipping MacBook Pro models with an M2 Pro or M2 Max configuration since producing SoCs in the process is said to be too difficult and expensive.

The number of CPU and GPU cores in both the Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models

M2 Max vs. M1 Max – Specs

The M1 Max can be configured with up to 10 cores CPU (eight performance cores and two energy efficiency cores) and a 32 GPU cores. As with successive releases, the new Apple Silicon will have a higher CPU and GPU core count. At this time, we know that the M2 Max will display up to 12 core CPU and 38 core GPU But the same as the standard RAM limit. In short, expect higher computing and graphical performance, combined with improved efficiency, thanks to an improved manufacturing process, or at least that’s what we hope.

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Keep in mind that a 12-core and 38-core GPU isn’t intended for the base model, and consumers will likely pay a premium to increase the total number of cores. However, when looking at Apple’s M1 Max configuration on the company’s website, we noticed that the latter was available with three different GPU cores. They all feature the same 10-core CPU, with the base version having 16 GPU cores, the one in the middle having 24 GPU cores, and the trim variant touting a whopping 32 cores.

Our guess is that the M2 Max will be available with a 12-core CPU in all versions, with the base available with a 19-core GPU, and customers have the option to get more cores for a higher “Apple tax.” We don’t know if Apple will increase the number of cores for its Neural Engine over the M2 Max, but we’ll find out during the official announcement.

The number of CPU and GPU cores in both the Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max SoCs for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models

M2 Max vs. M1 Max – Upgrades

The M2 Max is said to feature support for faster and more efficient LPDDR5X RAM which will be part of the SoC die as Apple’s unified architecture. Improvements should include increased bandwidth and lower power consumption since the unified RAM in the M1 Pro and M1 Max was LPDDR5-based, making it less powerful and less efficient than LPDDR5X.

For comparison purposes, the M1 Pro topped out with Memory bandwidth 200 GB / swhile the M1 Max 400 GB / sec. Samsung recently announced its LPDDR5X RAM and claimed a 1.3 times performance improvement, along with a 20 percent power reduction over LPDDR5.

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Based on these differences, a 1.3x performance improvement equals a 33% increase, and if our calculations are correct, the M2 Pro’s memory bandwidth increase to 266 GB / swhile the M2 Max up to 532 GB/s. Of course, these are just theoretical numbers, and actual performance will vary greatly depending on the type of workload the M2 Max has to handle.

The maximum memory bandwidth of the M1 Pro and M1 Max

The M2 Max is something we’d be excited to see, as Apple will push the CPU and GPU core count limit, but there are other things to look forward to. For example, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models may use Wi-Fi 6E for the first time, as suggested by an unreleased version spotted in a Canadian database leak. For those who haven’t yet made the jump to the high-end MacBook Pro, these upgrades should entice you completely “under the hood”.

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